Home page Psychology blog Child and Adolescent Behavior Moral Values “Be So Kind!”: Teaching Children Benevolence

“Be So Kind!”: Teaching Children Benevolence

28.05.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Compassion, empathy, benevolence… One would think that this is all about one thing – a good attitude to a close person. Basic and integral values which parents consider as “built-in by default” for their beloved child. Therefore, they cannot see obvious thing, disbelieve any complaints from teachers and do not seriously perceive the stories from known babushkas about how unwell Pete treats Mary.

And it happens when parents are so confident that their child is right, they just take no actions, but share his/her position and support in cases, when a child is insolent. Such behavior of a parent represents great hazard since it may provoke a child to exhibit aggression.

“At our elementary school, a teacher’s daughter did a terrifying bullying of kids from first to fifth class. She was bullying about five people: hailing and beating. At that, she was approved by her mother – she as well could not stand those children”.

— Ulyana, mother of Alex, 11

As per data from the UNESCO Institute, published in 2016, 23% of girls and 27% of boys at the age of 11 years were subject to harsh treatment on the part of equals in age at least 2 to 3 times per month. [1]

It is obvious that special attention on the part of parents in such cases should be paid to aggrieved children as well as to those inclined to be rude and insult others.

That is why teaching senior preschoolers, pupils and juveniles benevolence becomes an important issue.


  1. Why is it important to pay attention to teaching benevolence?
  2. Causes of hostile behavior
  3. Diagnostics of the level of a child’s benevolence: test
  4. How to develop various age children’s benevolence

Why is it important to pay attention to teaching benevolence?

Benevolence is a complex of positive personality features: inclination for wishing people to be well, act in a kind way, compassionate and friendly disposition to people on altruistic basis. Value of benevolence is laid in the very culture of communication: greeting one another, we say “Hello!” and wish something good (“Good morning!”). A friendly child aspires to see better things in a person, share joy and be compassionate in difficulties. It helps him/her find friends and gain help and support, find solution in difficult situations easier.

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Hostility is a negative feature: hostile, unfriendly, uncordial attitude to whomsoever. It is expressed with forms of verbal aggression: being rude, sneering, peppery words and contumely towards adults or equals in age, impudent complaints.

If verbal aggression is ignored, there is a risk of its transfer to other form – physical.

Today, when the mass media with increasing frequency highlight cases of cruel ways of harassment, beating and even use of weapons within the school walls, issues of moral upbringing are especially actual.

Causes of hostile behavior

Causes of hostile behavior

Responding, being rude, chinning, grizzling are habits are obtained by a child in the process of socialization.

“In childhood, we all had nicknames in the hood, but not insolent, me and my friend till now call one another like that. And now children invent extremely offensive epithets, on top of that obscene!”

— Olga, mother of Kirill, 13

Why children are inclined to express themselves unkindly towards one another?

1. Reduced level of child’s empathy

Empathy is a way to perceive thoughts and emotional state of another person. Children very seldom openly express their reaction to actions of the surrounding people, saying: “I’m offended! Your words hurt me”. And adults pay insufficient attention to empathy development. Not knowing what are the feelings of a person who was treated unkindly, children may never understand the consequences of this behavior. Recommendations on how to develop children’s empathy will be given in conclusion part of the article.

2. Lack of self-esteem

A child’s self-esteem is based upon parental love and approval. As an infant, he/she perceives love and reaction of family. Growing up, he/she begins to understand whether others respect him/her, his/her needs and desires. Then he/she comes to the feeling of own importance, achieving success in class: reading, training, gymnastics… If he/she lacks support and approval, feels his/her failure, there may be a desire to ridicule or humiliate another person in order to look better at his/her expense.

3. Want for revenge

In such situations, a child acts on the principle of a logical transition from an object to a subject: once he/she was offended, but now he/she wants to “recoup”. Revenge is not always directed at the offender. For example, offense against parents for a more careful attitude to a younger brother or sister, for frequent family conflicts, will be hid from the parents, but expelled on peers. Parents will be perplexed and wonder: “My child calls people names, what am I to do?”

4. Desire to be accepted in a group

In an effort to be involved in any group, a child takes the position of its leaders and suppresses the outsiders. As a rule, the group has a clear understanding of what is “cool” and what “sucks”:

— Doesn’t Misha have a computer at home? Loser!

— Nastya goes out with an old mobile phone? Loser!

5. Inability to solve problems

The ability to get out of conflicts is a skill that pupils take from school along with the lessons learned. It is almost as valuable as knowledge. Failure to resolve children’s disputes differently is one of the most common reasons why children call each other names.

6. Envy

Often an adult doesn’t even think that envy is eating his/her child. The reason for the emergence of this bitter feeling may be not so much a desire to have a certain thing available to another, but rather a lack of attention. An envious child is inclined to humiliate someone in order to feel better

7. Hostility directed at a child

It happens that in a family the manifestations of reverent care are not accepted. Most of the time the child is treated unfriendly, and he/she adopts this behavior. Unlike revenge, there are no obvious negative incentives. Such treatment is becoming the norm.

8. Desire to dominate

A child with leadership qualities tends to reinforce own authority by expressing disapproval of weaker children. He/she feels superior when teases.

9. Absence of demand for benevolence

Often, closing a book or ending a joint watching of a cartoon, parents do not encourage the child to discuss, do not help understand the message of the text or motion picture, do not explain that malevolence is bad.

Another example is that parents provoke a substitution of concepts. Finishing the conversation on the phone in raised tones, the mother emotionally says goodbye to her interlocutor: “Yeah, good luck! Good luck!” Good wishes uttered with disapproving intonation devalue their meaning.

10. Absence of communicative skills

Sociability is a key element in building harmonious relations with society. Not being able to listen, support and act in a team, a child seeks to suppress interlocutors..

Diagnostics of the level of a child’s benevolence: test

It seems that in the world there is no person who knows your child better? Take a break. Do you know what a child is watching on TV and on the Internet? How accurately do you imagine the content of conversations with others? You probably now doubted the firmness of your opinion. Imagine that the child who woke up today is a new person for you. Invite him/her to a confidential conversation, get to know him/her. Here are some questions to help you build a dialogue:

  1. If I give you money, can you spend it on gifts to friends?
  2. If your friend starts to tell you something uninteresting, but very important for him/her, will you listen or say that you are bored?
  3. You notice that a friend plays the game worse. Will you make fun of his/her failures?
  4. In the game, you understand that there is no chance of winning. Throw or continue the game?
  5. Will you mimic someone to make your friends laugh?
  6. How long do you remember a grudge? Will you take revenge?
  7. Do you often make fun of someone, realizing that a joke can be offensive?
  8. Do you like helping others when you know for sure that you can do this?
  9. Do you like to say nice things to people to cheer them up?
  10. When you are sure that you are right, will you hear the opinion or advice of another person?

For each affirmative answer to questions 1, 2, 3, 9 and for each negative answer to questions 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, write down one point and calculate the amount. A result of over 6 points indicates a high level of friendliness to others. From 3 to 6 points – that the child is selective and kind not with everyone. Less than 3 points is an occasion to think about child’s behavior.

For a more detailed analysis and help in fostering friendliness, you can turn to specialists in child psychology. There are many formats of psychological assistance, including remote. For example, you can order a behavior modification course using the 7Spsy technique. Before starting the exercise, the child will undergo a completely anonymous diagnostic test. The advantage of such a diagnosis is that a child can work with questions independently, without regard to a possible disapproval of answers by adults.

How to develop various age children’s benevolence

How to develop various age children’s benevolence

A Soviet writer and pedagogue V.A. Sukhomlinsky devoted his works to the formation of morality, including the issues of developing benevolence in children of different age groups. He called supreme joy “the joy of exciting experiences caused by caring for a person”. [2] Humanistic, value-based ideas and views of Sukhomlinsky found their echo both among his contemporaries and among teachers of the next generation. Modern educational institutions include various methods of maintaining benevolence between children in educational plans.

Do not forget that the positions of the educator and teacher are perceived as authoritative when they do not contradict the values inherent in the family.

What is “for no reason”? About classes with preschoolers

Often parents, trying to occupy the baby, resort to a life-saving tool – a pad. Preschoolers very quickly learn to find interesting and, most importantly, simple and understandable content on their own. There is no point in complaining about “he does not like good cartoons at all”. In viewing such material, participation is important: sit down to watch with the children, or better, with the whole family. Before watching, you can briefly talk about the content, ask to be attentive. After offering to discuss the cartoon, ask what the child thinks about the characters and their actions.
Watching such Soviet cartoons as “Gift for the smallest”, “For no reason”, “A Seven Color Flower”, “Adventures of Funtik the piglet” contributes to the development of empathy and benevolence in children. You can also watch modern cartoons, where some characters act kindly, while others show hostility and face the consequences of this. But pay attention to the duration of the motion picture: most of the cartoons of recent years last for 1 hour or more. Prolonged viewing of videos may adversely affect the health of the child. The best solution is short animated series: “Lessons of Kindness”, “The Smeshariks”.

Such discussions are fit for joint reading of books, going to the movies and to the puppet theater.

It is important to show that you need to show kindness not only to people, but also to all living things. To teach with an example to be careful with animals and plants.

It is useful to practice role-playing games with older preschool children, for example, according to the methods of L.S. Vygotsky or L.V. Alipova. The role of an adult in such a game is to propose a topic, observe and suggest, and the script and rules of the game are invented by the children themselves. Several possible topics: “Shop”, “Library”, “Drivers”. Thinking over the course of the game, children should adhere to the rules related to the choice of topic, plot of the game, distribution of roles, with an agreement on the main actions of the players:

  • being polite and kind, agreeing to play;
  • suggesting the theme of the game, make sure that it is interesting to other participants;
  • thinking about mutual assistance;
  • not interrupting and not demanding the main roles;
  • asking for permission to enter the game if it has already begun;
  • not quitting the game without the consent of other participants.

The game within the framework of the established set of rules becomes a reflection of the general picture of the world and relationships. [3]

And if you think about it? On talking with primary school children

Going to school is a stress, which, nevertheless, can and should take a positive form: a pupil socializes, learns to communicate, to conduct an equal dialogue and to resolve conflict situations.

It is important that the child feels your support. The question “How is at school?” should not be asked formally. Listen carefully, ask what your child thinks about the behavior of classmates and his/her own actions. When asking specific questions, try to gently and calmly draw the child’s attention to alternative scenarios:

— This time you preferred to be rude and snap back. Let’s think together, what can you do next time if the situation repeats?

— Do you often hear names in the classroom? Why do you think the kids call names?

— What will you do if you hear a classmate name-calling? Do you think this affects the attitude of other children towards him/her?

Can we handle it ourselves? On working with teens

The problem of malevolence can be a serious obstacle to success in school and building friendships. What to do if a teenager is impudent and insults others?

The opinion of a pedagogue and psychologist E.V. Dmitrieva is: “The most relevant is the implementation of moral education in adolescence, when there is a rapid development of self-awareness, and the specificity of social relations is changing. In adolescence, a life crisis occurs, a search and structuring of moral standards and traditional values is in progress”. [4]

It is worth considering that it is during this period that the need for communication with the opposite sex increases. It is difficult for a teenager, even under strict control of the parents, and sometimes for own reasons, to understand the whole “cocktail” of new feelings.

Confidential conversations and joint viewing of films (for example: “Scarecrow” [1983, 12+]; “Pay to another” [2000, 12+]; “Hurry up to love” [2002, 12+]) can be continued if this is not causes a teenager’s rejection or aggression.

If it becomes more difficult to build a comfortable educational dialogue with a teenager, try to convey the importance of psychological work. Explaining your position, express empathy, talk about the benefits that communication with a specialist will bring:

— “I understand how difficult it is for you, and really want to help. It was hard for me when I was a teenager. I want to help you learn how to deal with difficulties”.

If the problem is out of control and simple discussions no longer help, then you should turn to psychologists for help.

We will teach you to be honest and truthful

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The 7Spsy behavior modification technique is a patented method of behavioral psychology based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, A.A. Ukhtomsky, B.F. Skinner. The method allows you to replace negative attitudes with positive ones and thus adjust the child’s behavior model. Working on the course is remote, the child is involved independently. You will only need to help him/her understand the training program. The duration of the course is from 2 to 6 weeks. Classes can be held at a convenient time, governed by the schedule. Throughout the course, the psychologist will support the child and answer questions through a convenient communication channel: by phone, e-mail or in online chats.
As a result, the child realizes how important it is to be friendly, and gets used to a new model of behavior. By helping your child solve a problem now, you help him/her avoid many problems in the future.


  1. Institut IuNESKO: v Rossii do treti shkolnikov podvergaiutsia travle (https://tass.ru/obschestvo/3541574)
  2. Sukhomlinskii V. A. Serdtse otdaiu detiam (Radianska shkola, 1974 g.)
  3. Alipova L. V. Vospitanie dobrozhelatelnosti u detei starshego doshkolnogo vozrasta v siuzhetno-rolevykh igrakh // Problemy i perspektivy razvitiia obrazovaniia: materialy VI Mezhdunar. nauch. konf. (g. Perm, aprel 2015 g.) (https://moluch.ru/conf/ped/archive/149/7685/)
  4. Dmitrieva E. V. Razvitie dobrozhelatelnosti v strukture nravstvennogo vospitaniia podrostkov // Pedagogicheskie nauki (g. Sankt-Peterburg, vypusk № 12(66), dekabr 2017 g.) (https://research-journal.org/pedagogy/razvitie-dobrozhelatelnosti-v-strukture-nravstvennogo-vospitaniya-podrostkov/)